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Monday
Aug032009

Procrastination

The rewards of effort are long lasting and satisfying, the rewards of procrastination are few.

They are instant, but short lived.

The instant gratification of giving up, quitting, just relaxing and doing nothing; followed by guilt and the realization that the effort has only been temporarily delayed.

It is one thing to set goals in life but to keep up the effort required to bring those goals to fruition is a whole different matter.

I had not ridden my bike for a month; from Saturday 4th July, until Saturday 1st August to be exact. The reason, I got into watching the Tour de France each day instead of riding my bike.

I don’t regret that I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, the Tour ended and was followed by a week of procrastination over getting back on the bike; along with all accompanying guilt.

I found I could watch the Tour de France live on my PC, and watching the event live is the way to go if you have the luxury of a flexible schedule. You get the feeling of being there, and if you have ever raced bicycles, as I have, you know about the tactics of the sport, and you feel what the riders are feeling at the moment it is happening.

Each stage was over just before noon here on the Eastern Coast of the US, but where I live in South Carolina it gets brutally hot and humid by the PM, along with afternoon thunder storms. It is essential to get a ride in before 10am.

After watching the Tour de France for three weeks it was brought home to me what a tough and demanding sport bike racing is. I had to smile while watching golf last week. (Not by choice, it was in front of my face as I sat in a bar.)

I was reminded of a quote I hear banded about that “Cycling is the new golf.” I don’t think so. Even riding at the level I ride requires a certain amount of effort, and a certain level of fitness; hence the procrastination in my getting back into it.

We only procrastinate over things that require effort; do people procrastinate over playing a game of golf? I doubt it. Maybe games like golf are a form of procrastination without the guilt, which could account for why they are so popular.

I used to work for a man who would take three separate week long vacations each year. He would go skiing for a week. Go sailing for another week, and later play golf for a week.

I doubt he was good at any of these sports, but at least he could participate. Had he decided to ride a road bike for a week he would have suffered terribly. You can’t get on a road bike one week a year; it is a year round commitment.

The level I choose to ride at is 30 to 40 miles at a moderate pace. (Pushing myself, but not riding to a state of exhaustion.) I do this 3 or 4 times a week. When I get to a level of fitness where I can do this easily, riding becomes a joy and a pleasure.

When overcoming procrastination, a person has to look beyond the thing you are procrastinating over, to the reason you set yourself these goals in the first place. Instant gratification is one thing, but it can’t compare with the joy and satisfaction of reaching long term goals.

I went out on Saturday and rode just 15 miles; I did not push myself but just enjoyed the ride. Now I have that first ride under my belt I know it will be easier to get out again and increase the miles steadily until I am back to my desired fitness level.

My problem is, there are never enough hours in the day to do all I set out to achieve; it is easy to fill the time I spend riding my bike with other things. I realize however, that physical fitness is important to maintain the energy level I need to do all I want to do.

As we get older it is so easy to slip into a sedentary lifestyle, which then leads to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc, etc. I just needed to step back and get my priorities straight, and realise that cycling and the exercise value I get from it, has to be my number one priority.

Keeping myself fit and healthy is essential to accomplishing all the other goals I have set myself. It was good to take a break, but it will be good to get back to my old form again. Cycling has always been a large part of my life, and it is the key to my future.

 

Question: Do you struggle with procrastination? What tricks do you use to get over it?

  

Reader Comments (13)

Dave,

Procrastination is my most common problem, and it has been for many years. I've about given up trying to figure out why it is a problem and am content to just accept it and try to deal with it.

My strategies are few:

1) Always remind myself that I feel bad when I put things off that I want/need to do and that I feel good when I do them. This helps enormously.
2) Focus on "doing it" and not on how much time/effort is involved in doing it. I tell myself "Don't think, just do," although the over-commercialized "just do it" helps, too.
3) When it's something that's good for me (like eating right or exercise) that I am avoiding, I remind myself of something I heard on the radio -- If a doctor prescribed you a medicine that you have to take every day to keep yourself alive, then you wouldn't debate whether or not to take it or when , you'd just take it. You need to see things things like diet and exercise in the same way -- they are not options, they are necessary to keep you alive.

Anyway, I still struggle with these, but lately I seem to be doing better. I think reading your blog helps.

Cheers,

hal.

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHal

I am reminded that someone once told me that they couldn't enjoy pleasurable things when they knew they were putting something important off. I try to think about that when I'm procrastinating.

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephen

Yep, procrastination has been the bane of my existence in general, and
cycling in particular. Especially recently, when I've found reasons not to head out on my weekend rides until it is too late in the day to do so.
I still commute about 20 miles daily, but while that's better than nothing, my body is used to it so I don't get a whole lot out of it.
Your post here hopefully is the kick in the pants I needed to get started riding on the weekend again. Once I start, I really enjoy myself, it's sometimes very hard to get started, though.

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterYohann M

After ~13 years away from cycling (I was a mechanic and a bike-only/no-car person back then) I am back on the bike to try to offset the sedentary life and get an elevated cholesterol down with exercise - surprising to me because I am still thin as a broom pole. But this essay is very familiar as it mirrors the ongoing conversation I have with myself every morning. I am riding about 20 miles a day now, with the weekly average slightly over 100 miles. What I find most difficult is putting on my shoes. Once I get my shoes on, I am committed. And once I get out there, I find it hard to go back inside. If my legs would just hold out a bit longer, I'd ride all day long. Even the pain is good, you know? Just have to get the shoes on.

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJ Ake

Sad to say, I only got out on the bike once while the Tour was on. Right now, here I am reading Dave's blog when I could be out riding. But by now it's getting too hot, humid and windy to start out. Maybe tomorrow...

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Procrastination. Makes me wonder if there is such a thing as Concrastination or Anticrastination.
This is something I've struggled with most of my life. As a voracious reader its always easy for me to pick up a book, there always at least 2 or 3 laying around the house in various stage of consumption.
This has been a difficult riding season for me. I had shoulder surgery in April and am only now beginning to get my range of motion back. The Colorado Rockies have also had an extended monsoon season, with only a few days in June and July that were not full of rain and lightning. I'll ride in the rain, but going out into a potential lightning situation with a conductor twixt my legs just does not motivate me to ride.
Of course I have a job which puts additional pressure on me, even though I get to work from home. Added to this is my hone ground terrain: 9000 ft and nothing but climbs and big descents. This can make those first few rides after some time off very punishing indeed.
All that said, I am getting out on the bike today come hell or high water. I've finally started sleeping more than 2-3 hours a night; the worst part of shoulder surgery is the sleep deprivation. My motivation comes from self loathing primarily. I hate myself in the evening if I have not ridden during the day. I also know, from experience, how absolutely terrific I feel after a ride. The sense of well being, the headiness. The feeling of accomplishment. The energy I bring to my afternoon's work.
I'm a better person for having ridden the bike. That's motivation enough.

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

Procrastination can be disease like, be careful there Dave. If you want to make your physical well being a true priority, consider this. I know you love bikes and cycling, there will sometimes be weather or some other thing that gets between you and your 3 or 4 times a week ride. Just consider purchasing an indoor trainer or stationary bike. There are many options new and used. When it gets too hot outside you have no excuse. It will add to your fitness level and make your ride outside all the better. I know your much a traditionalist Dave, but consider this just for the health of it!

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike

After having an event a week ago on Friday night July 24th I have not been on my bike. I was riding my beach cruiser about a half mile from the house when an assailant approached from behind and tried to throw me from the bike. I sprained my right thumb pulling his arm off my waist, and I did manage to get a punch in. He left cussing me. I think he was shocked that a 60 year old on a bike might fight back.

In any event it wasn't till Wednesday July 29th until I went to Myrtle beach to buy a new front wheel to replace the one that was damaged in the attack. It wasn't till 11am today Aug 3rd did I actually mounted a tube and tire and put the new wheel on the bike.

Right now in Andrews, SC it is hot and muggy, just like Dave says. I pray that I will actually get out and ride my bike tomorrow morning.

I have a DVR and watched the Tour de France on Versus High Def. If I could not watch I recorded it and watched it when I got home.

All this to say, yes Dave, I also procrastinate. I need to do what I know is good to do.
I have given up solo rides at night though. I don't want another night like the last attack.

Have a Blessed Day,
Pastor Clint

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPastor Clint

I suspect there would be many procrastinators if the standard was that every ride has to be 30 to 40 miles or else it's not worth going out. It's too easy nowadays to become obsessed with anything, including cycling. I think Internet blogs and forums contribute to it. I do it myself sometimes, but my old body usually gives me a hint or two that I'm overdoing it. I do my best to make sure I'm actually enjoying it. When I'm not, it's time to take a break.

August 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPierre

I meant to make a comment to this post when I first read it, but I've put it off until now. Which is to say yes, I struggle with procrastination, both in my personal and professional life.

I procrastinate when it comes to bike riding, too. I often wait until late in the day. I'm not sure why. If I did, I'd know how to counteract my procrastinating in all aspects of my life.

However, much of last year and all of this year, I've managed to ride almost every day I've been able to ride, even if it's just for 30 minutes. Yesterday, I didn't launch until 6 p.m., and then I put in about 90 minutes of both cycling and photography (those pics are posted on my own blog).

There were, I think, a few reasons for the change in my behavior. One was a late life crisis, and one way to work through it was on my bike. The other was a heart attack, extremely mild because I had prompt treatment. The thought that my riding days might be over, and the realization a few days later that they are not over yet, has motivated me to ride like never before. How sad it's taken a heart attack, rather than reason, to help me make the change.

I've always had a few rides over the course of a year that I tried to stay in for, centuries and hill climbs. This year I've added a few more of those rides and in between I've learned to keep the demons of procrastination at bay.

I'll ride again a little later today, when the sun begins to drop toward the horizon and the temperature settles down, too. I'm not sure where, maybe the nearby Santa Monica Mountains, or out to the Pacific Ocean, or maybe just around the streets of Los Angeles, not because I've got a big ride coming up, but just for the pleasure of riding in the moment.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave Wyman

Hi,

I'm Michael, I'm a procrastinator. Addiction trumps procrastination. Meditation from solo rides, social aspect from group rides, Hammering, and being able to leave it all out there on the road, Addiction from all rides as you fly through the roads. One great by product I love is the health aspect, the con is the risk of spills and accidents.

Be safe, be happy,
Michael ( M1CW @ twitter )

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM1CW

Dave,

I would have responded sooner but....... Just make that first step a small one, the second step is always easier. Goals are achieved incrementally so just make the increments attainable and visible. Sometimes one doesn't notice the grade of a climb until they turn their head and see how far they have come. (I just wish I had more of those types of climbs during my racing days, instead of the solo efforts off the back of the pack.)

Enjoy,
Jim (Fuso 985)

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJim
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